CHARLOTTE, NC – JANUARY 21: NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace pose for a photo before the Charlotte Hornets game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 21, 2022 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

With his victory at the AdventHealth 400 in May, 23XI Racing driver Kurt Busch qualified for the NASCAR Cup playoffs. But with injuries keeping him out of action for the next few weeks leading up to the tournament, Busch had to make a big decision about his near-term future.

On Thursday, Busch announced that he realized he couldn’t compete for a championship in his state. As a result, he withdraws his waiver request to race and will skip the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

“I respect the sport of NASCAR, my fellow drivers and the fans too much to take a playoff spot if I know I can’t compete for a championship,” Busch said.

NASCAR fans on Twitter were both grateful and sad at the news. Many show respect to Busch for his willingness to make way for a fitter driver, while others are sad that he has to retire at all.

Kurt Busch, 44, won his first Cup Series title in 2004. In his 23-year NASCAR Cup Series career, Busch has 34 wins, 339 top 10s and 28 poles in 776 races.

So when Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing decided to add Busch to their squad, it was seen as a major blow to the rising organization.

But it looks like their first real contender in the NASCAR Cup playoffs won’t be this year.

Will Kurt Busch return to the playoffs in 2023?